Malcolm Pein’s coverage of the FTX Crypto Cup moves on to the next stage in today’s Daily Telegraph column, featuring a big clash between Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura.

Malcolm Pein on…A Mirror Image

Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura traded blows in the first leg of the quarter-final of the FTX Crypto Cup online at Chess24. Having white proved to be a big advantage, as Black did not get a look in and the set ended 2-2. Nakamura opened the scoring as the World Champion twice levelled the score.

This entertaining battle mirrored the first-ever match in the online chess odyssey borne out of lockdown, when the pair drew 2-2 in round one of the Magnus Carlsen Invitational in April 2020. On that occasion, Carlsen led twice and Nakamura levelled.

The Big Clash

H. Nakamura – M. Carlsen
Ruy Lopez Open

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Nbd2 Nc5 10.c3 Be7 11.Bc2 d4 12.Nb3 dxc3 13.Nxc5 Bxc5 14.Be4 Qd7 15.bxc3 Rd8 16.Qc2

H. Nakamura – M. Carlsen

16…Ne7 (h7 is attacked and if 16…h6 17.Be3!! Bxe3 18.Rad1 forces Black to return the bishop and after 18…Bd4 19.Nxd4 Nxd4 20.Rxd4 Qe7 21.Bc6+ Black is suffering, as 21…Bd7 allows 22.Rxd7 Rxd7 23.Rd1) 17.Bg5 h6 18.Rfd1 Qc8 19.Bxe7 Rxd1+ 20.Rxd1 Kxe7 (If 20…Bxe7 21.Bc6+) 21.Nd4 Re8 22.Bf3! (Threat Qh7) 22…g6 23.Qd2 Bxd4 (23…g5 24.Bb7 Qxb7 25.Nxe6 fxe6 26.Qd7+ Kf8 is today’s puzzle) 24.cxd4 Bg4 (24…g5 25.Qb4+ or 25.d5 ) 25.d5 Bxf3 26.d6+ Kd7 (26…Kf8 27.d7) 27.gxf3 Re6 28.Rc1 c5 29.Qe3 c4 30.Qa7+ Ke8 31.Rd1 Qd7 (White hoovers the queenside) 32.Qa8+ Qd8 33.Qxa6 Kf8 34.Qxb5 Qg5+ 35.Kf1 Rxe5

Nakamura Beats Carlsen
36.Qxe5! 1–0 36…Qxe5 37.d7.

Test Your Strength

H. Nakamura – M. Carlsen Alternative Line

White to play and win; very hard

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

27.Qh7!! Be7 (27…Re7 28.Rd8+; 27…Qc6 28.Qxh6+ Kf7 29.Qf6+ Kg8 30.Qxg5+ Kf8 31.Qf6+ Kg8 32.Rd3) 28.Rd7 Qc6 29.Qxh6+ Kg8 30.Qg6+ Kf8 31.Rd3! wins

Play Through the Game

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